Babies Born at 35 Weeks: Health and Care

A baby born at 35 weeks is still considered premature, and may face some early health challenges. Statistics show that the percentage of preterm birth at 35 weeks has risen to 1.4 % in the United States. With recent advances in medical technology, babies who are born at 35 weeks have a 99% chance for survival. This is good news for parents facing an early delivery. This article will help you understand some of the possible challenges your baby may face, treatments they may need, and stories from other moms. 

Born At 35 Weeks: Health Issues 

Babies who are born at 35 weeks are considered “moderately premature.” They may need medical intervention to improve their chances of a healthy survival. At 35 weeks, there is a very high chance your baby will do just fine with a little help, but complications are still possible. These are a few you may have to face:

  • Jaundice 

A baby born this time has a much higher risk of jaundice. This is caused by an immature liver not being able to properly break down red blood cells. It causes yellowing of the skin, and may affect brain function without treatment.

  • Feeding Issues

It is less common at 35 weeks, but your baby may not know how to “suck, swallow, and breathe.” While this is more common around the gestational age of 32 weeks, the occasional 35 week baby may have some issues with feedings. This can make it hard for your baby to gain weight.

  • Respiratory Distress

Babies born at 25 weeks are at risk for respiratory distress. This is caused by the lack of surfactant on the lung tissues. Surfactant is a lubricant your body makes that prevents the lung tissues from sticking together when your baby breathes. It may also be caused by underdeveloped breathing muscles.

  • Low-Birth Weight

A baby born at 35 weeks averages about 5.5 pounds, give or take a pound. There have been babies born at this time that weigh closer to 6 pounds, and some as small as 4 pounds. If labor began early due to pregnancy complications, your baby will have an increased risk for low-birth weight.

  • Trouble Regulating Body Temperature

Because your baby has not completely put on all the body fat they needed at birth, they may not be able to regulate their body temperature. They can easily become too cold or even too hot.

 Possible Treatments My Baby May Need

If you have a preemie, it will help to understand some of the treatments your baby may need to help them along. Medical interventions may be necessary. Keep in mind the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) staff are highly trained doctors and nurses. They have been through many situations with premature infants and they know what to do. Here are some of the things you may see going on in the NICU:

Monitors and Alarms

Your baby’s vital signs will be closely monitored by the nurses. If anything changes, the doctor will be notified at once. The monitors will show them your baby’s blood pressure, temperature, oxygen levels, and respirations.

Respiratory Support

There are different types of respiratory support for premature infants. Your baby’s needs will be evaluated on a regular basis, and needs may change. Different types of things to help keep oxygen flowing to your baby include:

  • Oxygen

Your baby may only need supplemental oxygen, and not have any problems with lungs opening up on their own. You will see a “nasal cannula” placed inside their nose. The monitors will check to make sure your baby is getting enough oxygen to the tissues.

  • Bi-Pap

With a baby born at 35 weeks, if the oxygen levels drop on regular oxygen, they may put him or her on a bipap machine. This has a cup that is placed over baby’s nose and pushes a little puff of air into the lungs with each breath.

  • Ventilator

A ventilator is needed if your baby needs help opening up the lungs to get air in. It may be necessary if the bipap fails to help the baby get enough oxygen, or if there is not enough surfactant on the lung tissues.

UV Light 

If your baby develops jaundice, which is common in premature infants, they may need to go under an ultraviolet light to help break down and clear old red blood cells from their body. They will also be given extra fluids to help flush out the toxins that build up. 

Feeding Tube

If your baby cannot nurse from breast or bottle, they may have to place a feeding tube. Feeding can take a lot of baby’s energy, this can help them make the most of their feedings to gain weight. They put a tiny catheter down into the stomach. Feedings of formula or breast milk are fed by gravity through the tube.

Warming Lights/Kangaroo Care

If your baby has trouble regulating his or her body temperature, they will place them under a warming light. They will also encourage “skin-to-skin” contact with you known as, “kangaroo care.” This allows for bonding time with parents, and can help them regulate their body temp. 

Tips For Taking Baby Home

You may be a bit nervous about taking a baby born at 35 weeks home. It’s expected. Here are some tips for taking care of your preemie at home: 

  • Ask questions at the hospital. Make sure you have a number for on-call nurses that can answer questions for you.
  • Take an infant CPR class. The hospital may even require this for discharge.
  • Keep your baby in your room with you. Using a bedside bassinet has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
  • Set an alarm for feedings. Premature babies often need to be waken up to feed during the night. Blood sugar drops can happen quickly and make them sleepier.
  • Ask about a public health nurse. They can visit you and baby to help with developmental skills. Babies born early can be delayed by the number of weeks they were early for the first year of life.
  • If your baby is born in the winter months, restrict outings and visitors. Babies that are born early are at higher risk from complications due to RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus).